US election live

Live commentary on today’s US election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

2:35pm I’ve written an article for The Conversation about Biden’s win, and how mail-in votes turned key states around. I will continue to follow late counting action in a new thread to be posted tomorrow.

6:31am Sunday Overnight, Pennsylvania and Nevada were both CALLED for Biden, taking him to 279 Electoral Votes, nine more than the required 270. Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States!

2:47pm Both Georgia Senate races (one a by-election) have been called as going to runoffs on January 5. Republican David Perdue’s vote fell to 49.8%, below the majority required to avoid a runoff. Republicans are likely to win the two final uncalled races, in Alaska and North Carolina, for a 50-48 Senate lead. Democrats would need to win both runoffs to make it a 50-50 tied Senate, with Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote.

2:38pm Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania up to over 27,000 or 0.4%. His lead in Georgia is almost 4,400 or 0.09%.

1:12pm Biden’s lead in Arizona drops to under 30,000 votes or 0.9% as a Maricopa batch goes to Trump by ten points. But Arizona is now at 97% counted. Meanwhile, Biden’s Pennsylvania lead edges up to over 21,700 (0.3%).

11:50am Biden leads by 4,022 in Georgia (0.08%), by over 19,500 in Pennsylvania (0.3%), by 1.2% in Arizona and by 1.8% in Nevada. A large drop of votes from Arizona’s Maricopa county in under two hours could confirm that result. Biden continues to pull away in Pennsylvania and Nevada as more mail is counted.

9:15am Biden’s Georgia lead now 4,270 (0.08%) with Gwinnett county ballots counted. His Pennsylvania lead is over 14,500.

7:30am Biden’s lead in Georgia has increased to almost 1,600 votes. Almost 8,200 mail votes remain, including 4,800 in Dem-heavy Gwinnett county. Biden will further increase his lead. Today is the deadline for up to 9,000 military and overseas votes to arrive, but most of them probably won’t.

7:23am Trump has reduced Biden’s lead in Arizona to 1.3% with 93% in. But the latest batch was much weaker for Trump than previous batches, and puts him well off the pace needed to overtake.

6:45am Biden has also extended his lead in Nevada to 1.6% with 92% in. He’s going to win at least 279 Electoral Votes.

6:43am Saturday Biden also seizes the lead in Pennsylvania, by under 14,000 votes or 0.2%. With 96% counted, there are many more heavily Dem votes for Biden to further expand his lead. This state should be called for Biden soon, putting him over the line with 273 Electoral Votes.

8:35pm Biden seizes the lead in Georgia by 917 votes or 0.02%. There are very few votes outstanding, so Biden’s lead won’t stretch much further, and it is well within recount margin. Nobody will call for Biden yet.

8:06pm Trump’s lead in Georgia drops to just 463 votes.

5:55pm Trump’s Georgia margin has just fallen back to under 1,300.

5:50pm Not much counting in the last hour or so. Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania down to about 18,200. Looks like we’ll have to wait til tomorrow morning for Biden to hit the lead in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

4:07pm Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania down to about 22,600 or 0.3%.

3:37pm Trump’s leads are now 24,500 in Pennsylvania and 1,800 in Georgia.

2:56pm And Pennsylvania keeps going Biden’s way, as Trump’s lead drops to 26,000 or 0.4%.

2:47pm Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania now under 37,000 or 0.5%.

2:27pm Georgia still has over 16,000 votes to count, so Biden is very likely to take the lead.

1:49pm Trump’s leads in Pennsylvania and Georgia now at 42,000 and under 2,000 respectively. Biden is likely to take the lead soon in both states.

1:33pm Back to the US, and Biden’s margin in Arizona keeps tightening, now down to 1.6% with 90% in. The Trump margin in Georgia is down to under 2,500 votes. In Pennsylvania, Trump’s lead is now under 50,000 (0.7%), with plenty of mail still to come.

1:10pm A diversion to New Zealand, where final results of the election three weeks ago gave Labour 65 of the 120 seats, National 33, the Greens and ACT ten each and the Maori party two. Labour won 50.0% of the vote, National 25.6%, the Greens 7.9%, ACT 7.6% and Maori 1.2%. Labour and Maori each gained one seat at National’s expense from the election night results, with Labour’s vote increasing 0.9%.

12:05pm Mail ballots have been going to Biden even in big Trump counties. Nate Silver says that Trump discouraged his supporters from voting by mail, so even in Trump counties, the few Biden voters dominated mail. But there’s a LOT more mail in Biden counties.

11:17am Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania down to 1.0% with 94% in. But Biden’s lead in Arizona drops to 2.1% as late mail votes there favour Trump.

11:12am Trump now ahead in Georgia by just 3,600 votes or 0.1%. Clayton county in Atlanta appears to be the last county with votes outstanding. That’s at 95% in, and Biden’s winning by 85-14. Final votes there could well put Biden ahead.

9:33am Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania down to 1.4% with 93% in.

9:30am Trump’s lead in Georgia now just under 10,000 votes or 0.2%. It appears there are enough votes left for Biden to take the lead. Both Georgia Senate seats are headed for January 5 runoffs as Republican David Perdue’s vote share falls just under 50%.

9:27am 90% of the Nevada ballots remaining are in Democratic favouring Clark county, much of them mail. Biden is very likely to further expand his Nevada lead.

7:12am Biden is winning almost 80% with Pennsylvania mail ballots

7:02am Trump’s lead in Georgia is down to just 0.3% with 98% in.

7:00am In Pennsylvania, Trump’s lead is down to 1.7% with 92% in. The remaining vote is Dem-heavy mail. Biden is likely to lead comfortably once all votes are counted.

6:53am Friday Biden slightly extended his lead in Nevada on this morning’s counting, to 0.9% with 89% reporting. Nevada’s analyst Jon Ralston is virtually calling for Biden based on where the remaining votes are, and how Democrats have performed.

4:43pm A Pennsylvania win would get Biden 273 Electoral Votes, three above the magic 270. Biden is also currently ahead in Nevada (more votes to be counted tomorrow) and Arizona (late mail favouring Trump there). He is a good chance to win Georgia once all votes are counted. If Biden wins these states, he wins the Electoral College by 306-232, an exact reversal of the 2016 result.

4:35pm Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania is just 2.6% with 89% in. Twitter analysts say Biden is outperforming Clinton’s 2016 margins in the more populous counties and should comfortably win Pennsylvania once all votes are counted. That should occur by Saturday AEDT.

1:30pm Biden’s lead in Arizona narrows to under three points with 86% in. While early mail there was very good for Biden, late mail is good for Trump.

12:45pm Trump’s lead in Georgia down to just 0.8% with 95% reporting. Late votes are very pro-Biden there.

12:27pm Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania now down to three points with 88% in.

11:05am Trump’s lead in Pennsylvania has fallen to four points with 86% in. Nate Cohn says Biden is likely to win by about two points when all votes are tallied.

9:08am Michigan CALLED for Biden, taking him to 253 Electoral Votes. He’s likely to win Pennsylvania when all mail is counted, and win the election with at least 273 EVs.

6:28am The NYT has just CALLED Wisconsin for Biden; that’s his first state gain from 2016. Trump won Maine’s 2nd district, so it’s now 237 Biden, 214 Trump. Michigan is very likely to give Biden 253 Electoral Votes.

6:25am In the House, Dems lead by 199-185 with 51 races uncalled. Reps have made a net five seat gain, so the Dem majority will be reduced to about 230 seats out of 435.

6:22am Republicans lead in the Senate by 48-47 with five races uncalled. Reps won Maine and Dems Arizona. Two Georgia races are probably headed to runoffs. Dems are likely to win Michigan and Reps North Carolina.

6:15am Thursday With more than 98% counted in Wisconsin, Biden has a 49.4-48.8 lead, and will almost certainly win. He has a 49.6-48.7 lead in Michigan with 94% counted, and should win. Trump still leads by 8 in Pennsylvania with 80% in, but the remaining votes are very pro-Biden. Winning Wisconsin and Michigan would get Biden to 253 Electoral Votes

11:08pm And that’s going to be my last update for today.

11:06pm Nate Cohn says there are more than enough mail ballots outstanding in Pennsylvania for Biden to easily overhaul Trump.

10:30pm That last rural Nevada county is in. Trump only got a 1500 vote margin despite winning almost 80% of the vote there – low population. Biden’s statewide Nevada lead is down to 0.6% or 7,600 votes.

9:32pm The Biden Nevada lead is now just 0.8%, or 9,300 votes. One rural county is yet to report; that county gave Trump a 1400 vote margin in 2016.

9:25pm Biden’s lead in Nevada is down to 1% with 85% in. However, I believe they’ve virtually finished with in-person election day votes, and the rest should be mail that will likely boost Biden.

9:05pm Mail in Michigan should be counted by tomorrow, while Pennsylvania will take until Saturday AEDT.

9:00pm I had a break from this. Biden has taken the lead in Wisconsin by 49.3-49.0 with 89% in. It’s likely that remaining mail ballots there will be good for him.

7:20pm The NYT calls Maine for Biden. He leads by 227-213.

7:15pm I’ve just published an article for The Conversation about these results. Democrats only appear likely to gain a net one Senate seat, so Republicans would still have a 52-48 majority. That would be a very disappointing outcome for Democrats.

7:08pm The AP has confirmed Fox News’ call for Biden in Arizona.

5:50pm Biden leads by 5 in Nevada with 74% in, probably enough. He leads by 6 in Arizona with 80% in.

5:15pm The NYT calls Minnesota for Biden; that takes him to 223 Electoral Votes.

4:17pm And the NYT Needle now gives Biden a 0.4% lead in Georgia with 79% in.

4:15pm Biden leads in Nebraska’s second district by ten points with 85% in. If he wins that plus Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan, he has 270 Electoral Votes.

4:05pm Georgia is looking better for Biden. The NYT Needle has it at just Trump +1 with 78% counted. North Carolina isn’t over yet as mail ballots can arrive after election day. The needle is at Trump +1.2.

3:50pm The Iowa Selzer poll that had Trump winning by seven is likely to be on target again. He leads there by 4.5% with plenty of election day votes to come.

3:37pm Fox News has CALLED Arizona for Biden and the Dem Senate candidate.

3:15pm The Senate so far has the Reps gaining Alabama, while the Dems gain Colorado. The Reps have held SC and are likely to hold NC. One Georgia race is headed for a runoff, and the other could go that way too.

3:10pm And the NYT has called NH for Biden, which gets him 209 EVs.

3:05pm California, Washington and Oregon are called for Biden. That gives him a 205-112 lead in called races. But Trump is going to win Florida, Texas, Ohio and very probably North Carolina and Georgia.

2:35pm Two US networks have CALLED New Hampshire for Biden. He was expected to win there, but that’s his first real good news of the night.

2:17pm Trump now leading in Ohio by four points with 72% in. And in NC, he’s taken the lead by 0.4% with 88% in.

2:10pm Biden has an 11-point lead in Arizona’s early vote, which is an estimated 69% of all Arizona votes.

2:00 pm It’s looking bleak for Biden in the south and southwest as election day votes erode his early vote leads. It’s the same in Ohio. So Biden is probably going to need Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Those states count mail later.

1:42pm Biden leads by two in Ohio with 62% in, but the election day vote is likely to win it for Trump.

1:34pm Trump has just taken the lead by 0.1% in Texas with 73% in. Biden has been weak with Hispanics, like in Florida.

1:30pm Trump keeps gaining in NC as the election day vote is counted. He’s now less than two points behind, and the NYT needle is giving him a 92% chance to win.

1:20pm The NYT Needle has Trump winning NC by 1.4% with 72% reporting, and Georgia by 4%. Nate Cohn says completed towns in New Hampshire are showing a 6% margin shift to Biden.

12:40pm The NYT needle has Trump winning Georgia by 4 points and North Carolina by 0.9. Biden currently leads in NC by 7 points with 66% in, but most of that is early vote. And no surprise that Arkansas was called quickly for Trump.

12:15pm Biden leads in Texas by 13.5 points with 26% in. Remember this would be early votes.

12:12pm Democrats would dearly love to knock off current Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky. But Kentucky is too right wing; McConnell currently leads by 25 points.

12:09pm Biden leads in Ohio by 18 points with 31% in. However, that’s mostly early vote from the big population centres, and Trump will improve.

12:05pm Massachusetts, Connecticut Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois called for Biden, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi for Trump. Biden has an 85 to 55 Electoral College lead over Trump. These states were all easy calls.

12 noon South Carolina called for Trump

11:43am Virginia has been called for Biden, West Virginia for Trump. The NYT Needle gives Trump a 94% chance to win Florida – game over there.

11:30am The NYT needle has Trump winning Florida by 3.5 points, owing to a dreadfully weak performance by Dems in Miami-Dade county. At least the problems with Cuban Americans are unlikely to affect other states.

11:20am Biden leads in Florida by 51-48 with an estimated 31% in. Don’t think that’s good enough given election day votes and the Panhandle.

11:10am The New York Times has called Kentucky for Trump and Vermont for Biden.

10:47am Owing to a massive early vote margin in Lexington, Biden has a current two-point lead in Kentucky. It’s not likely to last, though.

10:05am The partisan split in Broward keeps widening in Democrats’ favour.

9:22am Republicans voted heavily in the morning, but their gains have slowed down dramatically. This tweet thread from Nate Silver shows how the Dem-Rep-Oth composition of Broward county, Florida has changed during the day. Broward is a very strong Democratic county, but it’s the trend that counts. This does not include votes cast before election day.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The final FiveThirtyEight national poll aggregate gives Joe Biden an 8.4% lead over Donald Trump (51.8% to 43.4%). In the key states, Biden leads by 8.4% in Wisconsin, 7.9% in Michigan, 4.7% in Pennsylvania, 2.6% in Arizona and 2.5% in Florida.

The worry for Biden is that Pennsylvania, the “tipping-point” state, is almost four points more favourable for Trump than the national aggregate. As a result, the final FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 10% chance to win the Electoral College, but a mere 3% chance to win the popular vote.

For the Senate, the FiveThirtyEight Classic forecast gives Democrats a 78% win probability, with the most likely outcome a 52-48 Democratic Senate. Democrats have an 80% chance of holding between 48 and 56 seats after the election.

Poll closing times

All times given here are today Australian Eastern Daylight Time. Polls have suggested the early vote will be strongly pro-Biden, but the election day vote will be strongly pro-Trump. Early leads in a given state are likely to depend on whether that state counts election day or early votes first. Poll closing times are from The Green Papers.

Some states span two time zones, with voting finishing an hour later in the trailing zone. US media will not call states until all polls in that state are closed. The most important early state is Florida: if Biden wins, he’s almost assured of victory, but a Trump win means we could be waiting for mail votes from Pennsylvania and Michigan, possibly for days.

10am. The first polls close in the eastern time zones of Indiana and Kentucky, both expected to be easy Trump wins.

11am. Polls close in Georgia and most of Florida. In Florida, early votes will be released soon after polls close and election day votes are counted relatively quickly. Here’s the catch: polls in most of Florida close at 11am, but there’s a very right-wing part called the Panhandle. The Panhandle is in a different time zone, and closes one hour after the rest of Florida. In 2016 and 2018, the Panhandle caused agony for hopeful Democrats.

11:30am. Polls close in North Carolina and Ohia. I believe early votes will be counted first in both states.

12 noon. Polls close in Pennsylvania and most of Michigan and Texas (small parts of Michigan and Texas close at 1pm). I believe election day votes will be counted first in Pensylvania and Michigan, while early votes are counted first in Texas.

1pm. Polls close in Wisconsin and Arizona. In Arizona, a large share of the overall vote will be mail, and that should be out for most of Arizona within an hour of polls closing. Mail received after election day can be accepted.

2pm. Polls close in Iowa, where I believe early votes will be counted quickly.

3pm. Polls close in California, Oregon and Washington. These are all Democratic strongholds that should be called immediately for Biden. If he’s already gained enough Trump 2016 states, this could be when he is declared president-elect.

5pm. The final polls close in Alaska’s western time zone.

US election minus two days

Biden is the clear favourite to win the US election, but there’s still a plausible chance for Trump, mainly due to a five-point Biden lead in Pennsylvania.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

This is a slightly modified version of an article I had published for The Conversation earlier Monday.

Two days before Wednesday’s US election (AEDT), the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden an 8.6% lead over Donald Trump (52.0% to 43.4%). Biden’s lead has decreased by 0.3% since last Thursday. In the key states, Biden leads by 8.3% in Wisconsin, 8.2% in Michigan, 4.8% in Pennsylvania, 3.1% in Arizona and 2.2% in Florida.

Biden’s lead in Pennsylvania is almost four points below his national lead, and that gives Trump hope of pulling off an Electoral College/popular vote split, as occurred at the 2016 election. Pennsylvania is the most likely “tipping-point” state that could put either Trump or Biden over the magic 270 Electoral Votes.

If Biden loses Pennsylvania, but wins Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he would have 269 Electoral Votes, one short of 270. Either Maine’s or Nebraska’s second Congressional District could in that scenario give Biden the narrowest of Electoral College wins. These states award one Electoral Vote to the winner of each of their districts, and two to the statewide winner. All other states are winner-takes-all.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost the tipping-point state (Wisconsin) by 0.8%, while winning the popular vote by 2.1% – a difference between the tipping-point and popular vote of 2.9%.

Analyst Nate Silver says while Trump can plausibly win, he would need the polls to be wrong by far more than in 2016. At this stage in 2016, the FiveThirtyEight forecast gave Trump a 35% chance; he currently has just a 10% chance. Trump only has a 3% chance to win the popular vote.

Trump had one very good poll result from a high-quality pollster: a Selzer Iowa poll gave him a seven-point lead in that state. But most high-quality polls have been far better for Biden: Siena polls for The New York Times gave Biden six-point leads in Arizona and Pennsylvania, a three-point lead in Florida and an 11-point lead in Wisconsin.

In FiveThirtyEight aggregates, Biden leads by 2.0% in North Carolina and 1.5% in Georgia. He trails by 0.3% in Ohio, 1.2% in Texas and 1.7% in Iowa. If Biden won all these states, he would win over 400 Electoral Votes. Florida is now in this group of states when it had previously been better for Biden.

Trump’s net job approval ratings have jumped two points since last Thursday. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -8.5%, and -7.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, while Trump’s is -13.

I wrote on October 22 that there are two key measures where Biden is doing far better than Clinton. First, Biden is over 50% in national polls, which Clinton never achieved. Second, he has a net positive favourability rating, whereas both Clinton and Trump were very unpopular in 2016.

The US election results will come through on Wednesday from 10am AEDT. You can read my wrap of when polls close in the key states and results are expected. A key early results state is Florida; most polls close at 11am AEDT, but the very right-wing Panhandle closes an hour later.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 79% chance to win control. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats. All these measures are unchanged since Thursday.

US election minus six days

Biden’s national lead drops to nine points, but he gains in Wisconsin, while Trump gains in Florida. Biden holds a five-point lead in Pennsylvania.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

With six days left until next Wednesday’s AEDT election, the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden an 8.9% lead over Donald Trump (51.8% to 42.9%). Biden’s lead has decreased by 1.0% since last week. In the key states, Biden leads by 8.5% in Wisconsin, 8.1% in Michigan, 5.2% in Pennsylvania, 3.5% in Arizona and just 1.5% in Florida.

Pennsylvania is currently clearly the “tipping-point” state that could potentially give either Biden or Trump the 270 Electoral Votes required to win the Electoral College. If Biden is only up by five in Pennsylvania while leading by nine nationally, the popular vote/Electoral College gap is nearly four points in Trump’s favour, the same as last week.

If Biden loses Pennsylvania, but wins Michigan, Wisconsin and Arizona, he would have 269 Electoral Votes, one short of the magic 270. Either Maine’s or Nebraska’s second Congressional District could in that scenario give Biden the narrowest of Electoral College wins.

In FiveThirtyEight’s aggregates, Biden also leads by 2.1% in North Carolina, 1.8% in Iowa and 1.5% in Georgia. He trails by 1.7% in Ohio and 1.8% in Texas. As I have said previously, if Biden wins all these states, he wins over 400 of the 538 Electoral Votes. The move to Trump in Florida puts it in with these states when it had previously been better for Biden.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump an 11% chance to win the Electoral College, down 2% since last week. He only has a 3% chance to win the popular vote. The slight tightening nationally and in Pennsylvania is more than offset by time running out for Trump. Trump is likely to need a much bigger polling error than in 2016.

Trump’s net job approval ratings have improved over one point since last week after dropping the previous week. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -10.3%, and -9.4% with polls of likely or registered voters. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +6, while Trump’s is -13.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 79% chance to win control, up 1% since last week. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority. Unchanged on last week’s projection. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats, also unchanged.

With the US hitting a new record of over 80,000 coronavirus cases Wednesday, coronavirus is likely to dominate the headlines in the lead-up to the election. That is unlikely to help Trump.

Poll closing times

All times given here are next Wednesday Australian Eastern Daylight Time. Polls have suggested the early vote will be strongly pro-Biden, but the election day vote will be strongly pro-Trump. Early leads in a given state are likely to depend on whether that state counts election day or early votes first. Poll closing times are from The Green Papers.

Some states span two time zones, with voting finishing an hour later in the trailing zone. US media will not call states until all polls in that state are closed. The most important early state is Florida: if Biden wins, he’s almost assured of victory, but a Trump win means we could be waiting for mail votes from Pennsylvania and Michigan, possibly for days.

10am. The first polls close in the eastern time zones of Indiana and Kentucky, both expected to be easy Trump wins.

11am. Polls close in Georgia and most of Florida. In Florida, early votes will be released soon after polls close and election day votes are counted relatively quickly. Here’s the catch: polls in most of Florida close at 11am, but there’s a very right-wing part called the Panhandle. The Panhandle is in a different time zone, and closes one hour after the rest of Florida. In 2016 and 2018, the Panhandle caused agony for hopeful Democrats.

11:30am. Polls close in North Carolina and Ohia. I believe early votes will be counted first in both states.

12 noon. Polls close in Pennsylvania and most of Michigan and Texas (small parts of Michigan and Texas close at 1pm). I believe election day votes will be counted first in Pennsylvania and Michigan, while early votes are counted first in Texas.

1pm. Polls close in Wisconsin and Arizona. In Arizona, a large share of the overall vote will be mail, and that should be out for most of Arizona within an hour of polls closing. Mail received after election day can be accepted.

2pm. Polls close in Iowa, where I believe early votes will be counted quickly.

3pm. Polls close in California, Oregon and Washington. These are all Democratic strongholds that should be called immediately for Biden. If he’s already gained enough Trump 2016 states, this could be when he is declared president-elect.

5pm. The final polls close in Alaska’s western time zone.

US election minus 13 days

Biden continues to lead nationally by almost ten points, but only by just over six points in the “tipping-point” states.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

With 13 days left until the November 4 AEDT election, the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 9.9% lead over Donald Trump (52.1% to 42.2%). Biden’s lead has decreased by 0.3% since last week. In the key states, Biden leads by 8.2% in Michigan, 6.3% in Wisconsin, 6.2% in Pennsylvania, 3.8% in Arizona and 3.6% in Florida.

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are virtually tied now as the “tipping-point” state that could potentially give either Biden or Trump the 270 Electoral Votes required to win the Electoral College. If Biden is only up by six in Pennsylvania while leading by ten nationally, the popular vote/Electoral College gap is nearly four points in Trump’s favour, the highest gap I can recall in these reports.

A concern for Biden is that his strongest Pennsylvania polls were either from pollsters with Democratic house effects this cycle (Quinnipiac had Biden up eight, but has been good for Biden all year), or showed an unrealistic gap in Biden’s favour between likely and registered voters (CNN had Biden up ten with likely voters but just five with registered voters).

In FiveThirtyEight’s aggregates, Biden also leads by 3.1% in North Carolina, 1.1% in Iowa and 1.0% in Georgia. He trails by 1.0% in both Ohio and Texas. As I have said previously, if Biden wins all these states, he wins over 400 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 13% chance to win the Electoral College, unchanged from last week. He only has a 4% chance to win the popular vote.

Trump’s net job approval ratings have dropped over one point since last week. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -11.6%, and -11.2% with polls of likely or registered voters. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +9, the highest it’s been, while Trump’s is -11.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 78% chance to win control, up 2% since last week. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority. Unchanged on last week’s projection. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats, also unchanged.

Biden is in a stronger position than Clinton was in 2016

Comparisons are being made to 2016, when Trump unexpectedly defeated Hillary Clinton. There are two key differences from 2016. First, although Clinton was consistently ahead of Trump nationally in 2016, she never reached 50% of the vote, while Biden is currently at 52%. US polls include undecided in their main voting intentions tables, and this makes it more difficult to reach 50%.

In 2016, both Trump and Clinton were very unpopular. The James Comey letter reopening an investigation into Clinton’s emails just 11 days before the election was probably influential in swinging late deciders behind Trump. In exit polls, he won those that did not like either candidate by 47-30.  This year, Biden’s big lead is partly explained by his own popularity.

Trump is trying to revert back to 2016, when he successfully attacked “Crooked Hillary” by going after Biden’s son, Hunter. But the increase in Biden’s net favourability and the lack of change on voting intentions suggest that most voters do not care about Hunter Biden. Still, I expect Trump to attack Hunter at Friday’s final presidential debate AEDT.

Voters are far more likely to care about coronavirus, and Trump is perceived to have handled that poorly. Over 70,000 new US cases were recorded last Friday, the highest since late July. Over 1,200 deaths were recorded Wednesday, the highest since August. Coronavirus continuing to be in the headlines is not good for Trump.

Here’s a coronavirus hypothetical: imagine if Trump had at least pretended to follow scientific advice on wearing masks, not holding big rallies and advocating social distancing. There’s currently also a massive spike in new cases in the UK, but the Conservatives lead Labour by 42-36 in the latest poll.

Left wins Bolivian election after re-run

After the October 2019 election, left-wing Bolivian president Evo Morales was forced to resign over claims of vote rigging. Owing to coronavirus, a new election was delayed until last Sunday. Luis Arce, who was Morales’ Minister of the Economy, won outright with 54.5%, avoiding a second round.

New Zealand election live

Live commentary on today’s New Zealand election. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont

1:32pm Sunday Conversation article up about this big win for Labour.

10:27pm Labour currently leads National by 49-27 when pollsters said they led by about 15 points. A plausible explanation was the large undecided or refused component in polls of over 10%.

The final Colmar Brunton poll had Ardern’s lead over Collins as better PM blowing out from 50-23 to 55-20. I don’t like the better PM measure, but perhaps it was an indicator of how the undecided would break.

10:23pm As I said before, these results are not final. Final results will be released November 6. In the past, there has been a shift to the left from election night to final results. If that happens again, the pollsters will look even worse.

10:20pm In comments, people have said that the Greens won their first electorate seat in 1999. Apologies for my mistake.

8:55pm In Auckland Central, the Greens lead Labour by 490 with 98% reporting. So they should get their first ever electorate seat. In Waiariki, Maori leads Labour by 294 with 92% reporting.

8:30pm Labour has steadied at 49.0% with 82% counted. There’s also still 12% of advance votes to go, where Labour is at 50.8%. Labour’s current projection is 64 of the 120 seats.

I’m CALLING a Labour majority government, the first majority NZ government since they adopted proportional representation in 1996.

7:50pm Labour down to 49.3% with 63% reporting. Likely that they’ll keep dropping as more election day votes are counted, maybe ending with around 47-48%.

7:46pm In Waiariki, the Maori candidate is now leading by 28 votes with 64% reporting. If that holds, Maori wins one parliamentary seat.

7:39pm Labour’s overall vote down to 49.5% with 57% reporting. They got 50.7% on the advance vote with 80% of that reporting.

7:35pm Labour’s lead back to 34 votes in Waiariki with 56% reporting.

7:33pm Labour’s lead over the Maori party is just one vote in Waiariki. If Maori win this seat, they’ll be in parliament, though their party vote of under 1% means they’ll only get one seat.

7:22pm One theory for this difference is that people who took coronavirus more seriously tended to be on the left, and they thought voting early was a good precaution.

7:20pm There’s clearly a difference between election day and advance voting. Labour is down to 49.9% overall, despite having 50.7% on advance votes. That’s with 47% counted.

6:55pm We’re now getting some election day votes, and it looks as if they’re a bit better for National. Labour’s overall vote is 50.4% now with 36% reporting, compared with 50.7% on the advance vote.

6:06pm The Greens are leading Labour by 396 votes in Auckland Central. They have 8% of the party vote, but winning a single-member seat would give them more security in future elections.

6:03pm In the Maori seat of Waiariki, Labour leads the Maori candidate by just 28 votes. If Maori win, they will be in parliament.

5:50 With 34% of advance votes counted, Labour is still just over 50%. Unless National does much better on election day votes, this is looking like a clear Labour parliamentary majority.

5:40 With 25% of advance votes counted, Labour leads National by 50-26, with 8% for the Greens and ACT. The Maori party is also shown as winning one electorate seat, thus entering parliament.

5:32 18% of advance votes counted, and Labour is on 49.9%.

5:28 Over 10% of advance votes have been counted, and Labour has 51%, National 26%, the Greens 8.4%, ACT 7.5% and NZ First 2.2%. Labour is currently winning 65 of the 120 seats. We’ll see if this holds up.

5:15pm AEDT With 2% of booths counted, presumably early votes, Labour has 50%, National 27%, the Greens and ACT 8% each.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

The New Zealand election is today. Polls close at 7pm local time (5pm AEDT). The final Colmar Brunton poll gave Labour 46%, National 31%, the Greens 8%, the right-wing ACT 8% and NZ First 3%. A Reid Research poll, conducted October 8-15, gave Labour 46%, National 31%, ACT 7%, the Greens 6% and NZ First 3.5%. A Labour/Greens government is the most likely outcome, with NZ First short of the 5% threshold to re-enter parliament. Labour could also win a majority in its own right.

The nominally 120-seat parliament has 72 single-member seats, elected by first-past-the-post, and 48 list seats. List seats are used as a top-up; parties that do well in single-member seats receive few list seats. Electors receive two votes: one for their local member and one for their preferred party.

It is the party vote that determines how many seats each party is proportionally entitled to, provided they either pass the 5% threshold or win a single-member seat. Contests between the major parties for single-member seats are irrelevant for determining overall seat entitlements. However, a single-member win by a non-major party candidate would put that party in partliament even if its party vote was below 5%.

Other than Epsom, already held by ACT’s leader, the best chance for a minor party breakthrough appears to be the seven seats reserved for those on the Māori roll. The Māori party won some of these seats between 2005 and 2014. In the first three of these elections, Māori wins caused an “overhang” because they won more single-member seats than entitled under the party vote. Parliament was expanded to accommodate these extra seats.

Over 1.7 million people have already voted, and I believe we will get the early vote results early on election night. The election night count is not final. Final results will not be released until November 6. In the past, there has been a shift of one or two seats towards left-wing parties from the election night to the final results.

There will be two referendums held with this election, one on legalising cannabis and the other on allowing euthanasia for terminally ill patients. The electoral commission will not count the referendum results on election night, and initial results will not be released until October 30.

US election minus three weeks; NZ election minus two days

Biden’s national lead reaches double digits, and he holds 7+ point leads in states likely to be the “tipping-point”. Meanwhile, NZ Labour retains a large lead.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

With three weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 10.2% lead over Donald Trump (52.3% to 42.1%). Biden’s lead has increased by 0.6% since last week. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.8% in Wisconsin and Michigan, 7.1% in Pennsylvania, 4.0% in Florida and 3.9% in Arizona.

Pennsylvania is back to being the “tipping-point” state in the Electoral College, after being tied with Wisconsin last week. The good news for Trump is that Pennsylvania is currently 3.1% more favourable for him than nationally. The bad news is that, with Biden up ten nationally, that isn’t going to matter.

For Trump to win, he needs to either reduce Biden’s national lead to under five points, so that the key states become highly competitive, or hope for a polling error much worse than in 2016. In the last two weeks, Biden’s national lead has increased from seven to ten points, and Trump is rapidly running out of time. A Trump recovery would probably involve him focusing on the economy for the last three weeks, and not holding rallies that can be seen as reckless given coronavirus.

Biden also leads by 3.2% in North Carolina, 1.2% in Georgia, 0.6% in Iowa and 0.3% in Ohio. He trails by 1.4% in Texas. As I have said previously, if Biden wins all these states, he wins over 400 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast gives Trump a 13% chance to win the Electoral College, down from 16% last week. He only has a 5% chance to win the popular vote.

Despite the bad voting intention polls, Trump’s job approval ratings have been relatively stable. In the FiveThirtyEight aggregate, his net approval with all polls is -10.4%, and -10.0% with polls of likely or registered voters. His ratings are down slightly since last week, but there has not been a fall like in July.

Favourable ratings are likely a better explanation for Trump’s decline. The RealClearPolitics average has Biden’s net favourability at +7, the highest it’s been, while Trump’s is -12. In 2016, both Trump and Hillary Clinton were very unpopular. This year, Biden’s big lead is partly explained by his own popularity.

In the FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast, Democrats now have a 76% chance to win control, up 4% since last week. The most likely outcome is a 52-48 Democratic majority, a one-seat gain for Democrats. The 80% confidence range is 48 to 56 Democratic seats; it was 48 to 55 last week.

Early voting

Some states have voter registration by party, though this does not mean that every registered Democrat votes for Biden, or every Republican for Trump. According to Michael McDonald’s Elections Project site, in North Carolina 51% of returned mail ballots have been from Democrats and just 18% Republicans. In Florida, it’s 50% Democrats and 29% Republicans.

These figures appear strong for Biden. However, it’s to be expected according to polls. A Pew Research poll was conducted after the first presidential debate from a sample of over 10,000. It gave Biden an overall 52-42 lead. Among those voting by mail, Biden’s lead was 69-27, and he also led by 55-40 among those voting in-person before election day. However, Trump led by 63-31 among those voting in-person on election day.

There could be big swings on election night depending on the order in which states count early and election day votes. In Florida, for example, the early vote is counted first, and much of it will be reported soon after polls close. Biden would expect to take a big lead on these early returns, but Trump would likely gain on the election day vote.

Colmar Brunton: NZ Labour leads National by 46-31

Two days before Saturday’s New Zealand election, the final Colmar Brunton poll, conducted October 10-14 from a sample of 1,005, gave Labour 46% (down one since last week), National 31% (down one), the Greens 8% (up two), the right-wing ACT 8% (steady) and NZ First 3% (up one). Jacinda Ardern led Judith Collins as better PM by 55-20 (50-23 last week).

If this poll was the election result, Labour would win 59 of the 120 parliamentary seats, two short of a majority. National would win 40, the Greens 11 and ACT 10. The Greens will be happy that their vote has increased to 8%, three points above the 5% threshold for party representation without winning a single-member seat. A Labour/Greens government is the most likely election outcome.

A Morgan NZ poll, conducted in September, gave Labour 47.5%, National 28.5%, the Greens 9.5% and ACT 7%.

US election minus four weeks

Biden extends his national lead after the first debate and Trump’s coronavirus. Meanwhile, NZ Labour retains a large lead.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

This is an updated version of an article I had published for The Conversation on Wednesday.

With four weeks left until the November 3 election, the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of US national polls gives Joe Biden a 9.5% lead over Donald Trump (51.7% to 42.2%). Biden’s lead has increased 1.9% since last week’s article.

In the key states, Biden leads by 7.7% in Michigan, 6.9% in Wisconsin, 6.9% in Pennsylvania, 4.6% in Florida and 4.4% in Arizona. If Biden wins the states that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the election with at least 278 of the 538 Electoral Votes.

Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are tied as the “tipping-point” states that could potentially put either Trump or Biden over the 270 EVs required to win. Pennsylvania has been polling closer to Wisconsin and Michigan than in the recent past. The current difference between Pennsylvania and the national vote is 2.6% in favour of Trump. At the moment, that gap isn’t much help to Trump.

There are five states where Biden is either just ahead or just behind: North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Iowa and Ohio. If Biden won all of them, he would win a blowout victory with over 400 EVs.

In the FiveThirtyEight forecast, Trump still has a 16% chance to win, though only a 7% chance to win the popular vote. Trump’s chances have declined 5% since last week. Still, a 18% chance is the probability of rolling a six on a six-sided die.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are 43.4% approve, 53.3% disapprove (net -9.9%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 43.8% approve, 53.2% disapprove (net -9.4%). His net approval has declined about one point since last week. RealClearPolitics averages have Biden at +6 net favourable, while Trump is at -12.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 72% chance to win, up 4% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 48 and 55 seats after the election.

Trump’s coronavirus

Perhaps there would have been some public sympathy for Trump had his coronavirus appeared to be bad luck. But it is likely Trump and other prominent Republicans’ coronavirus infections occurred at a September 26 event to announce Amy Coney Barrett as Trump’s nominee to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Pictures in the linked article show people sitting close together, without face masks. This created an impression of reckless conduct by Trump and other Republicans in ignoring medical advice.

In a CNN poll taken after Trump’s coronavirus, 60% disapproved and 37% approved of Trump’s handling of coronavirus; his -23 net approval is a record low on that issue. By 63-33, voters thought Trump had acted irresponsibly.

An additional problem for Trump is that coronavirus is back in the headlines. As Trump is perceived to have been poor on this issue, that helps Biden. New US daily cases have plateaued between 30,000 and 50,000.

US employment growth slows

The September US jobs report was the last before the November 3 election. 661,000 jobs were created, and the unemployment rate dropped 0.5% to 7.9%. This was the first month with fewer than a million jobs added since the April nadir. The unemployment rate has almost halved from April’s 14.7%. But the gain in September was mainly attributable to a 0.3% slide in the participation rate, to 61.4%.

Trump may have undermined his advantage on the economy by withdrawing from negotiations with Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi over a new stimulus bill. An article by analyst Nate Silver says stimulus spending was very popular: in a September Siena poll for The New York Times, voters supported a $US 2 trillion stimulus by a 72-23 margin.

NZ Colmar Brunton poll: Labour leads National by 47-32

With nine days left until the October 17 NZ election, a Colmar Brunton poll gave Labour 47% (steady since last week), National 32% (down one), the right-wing ACT 8% (steady), the Greens 6% (down one) and NZ First 2% (up one). Jacinda Ardern led Judith Collins as better PM by 50-23 (54-23 last week). This poll was conducted October 3-7 from a sample of 1,007.

If this was the election result, Labour would win 60 of the 120 seats, one short of a majority. National would win 41, ACT 11 and the Greens 8. However, the Greens will be anxious about clearing the 5% threshold, as NZ polls have tended to overstate them. If the Greens miss the threshold, Labour would win a majority on this poll, as it has a 47-40 lead over the combined vote for National and ACT. My personal website has more discussion of last week’s poll, including personal ratings of Ardern and Collins.

US election minus five weeks

Two strong polls for Biden in Pennsylvania make an Electoral College/popular vote split less likely, as Trump loses the first debate.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at the University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

Five weeks before the November 3 election, FiveThirtyEight’s national aggregate gives Joe Biden a 7.6% lead over Donald Trump (50.5% to 42.9%). This is a slight improvement for Biden since last week, when he led by 7.3%. In the key states, Biden leads by 7.0% in Michigan, 6.9% in Wisconsin, 5.6% in Pennsylvania, 3.7% in Arizona and 2.0% in Florida.

The best polling news for Biden was two Pennsylvania polls from FiveThirtyEight A+ rated pollsters. Both the Siena poll for The New York Times and the ABC/Washington Post poll gave Biden a nine-point lead in Pennsylvania.

If Biden wins states carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, plus Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, he wins the Electoral College with at least 278 Electoral Votes (270 are required). The strong polls for Biden in Pennsylvania have moved it to be 2.0% more favourable for Trump than nationally; last week it was 2.7% better for Trump.

There are several states that are not near the Electoral College “tipping-point”, but where Biden is currently narrowly ahead or behind. Since last week, Biden has taken the lead in Ohio and Iowa, and is tied in Georgia. He trails by just two points in Texas. With Biden also narrowly ahead in North Carolina, it could be a blowout victory.

Biden is doing best relative to Clinton in the Midwestern and northeastern states where there are many who voted for Barack Obama in 2012, but Trump in 2016. In 2016, both Trump and Clinton were unpopular candidates, but this year Biden is currently at a net +3 favourability, while Trump is at -13 in RealClearPolitics averages. Biden appears to have some appeal to whites without a university education, who swung to Trump in 2016.

The FiveThirtyEight forecast still gives Trump a 21% chance to win the Electoral College, down 1% since last week. Trump wins the popular vote just 11% of the time. An article by Nate Silver says that, if the election were held today, Trump would have only a 9% chance to win.

Trump’s ratings with all polls in the FiveThirtyEight aggregate are 43.7% approve, 52.9% disapprove (net -9.2%). With polls of likely or registered voters, Trump’s ratings are 44.2% approve, 52.7% disapprove (net -8.5%). His net approval has improved about one point since last week.

The FiveThirtyEight Classic Senate forecast gives Democrats a 68% chance to win, up 1% since last week. The most likely outcome is a narrow 51 to 49 Democratic majority, unchanged from last week. The forecast gives Democrats an 80% chance of holding between 47 and 55 seats after the election.

Biden wins first presidential debate

The first presidential debate between Biden and Trump occurred Tuesday. A CBS News post-debate scientific poll gave Biden a narrow 48-41 victory, while a CNN poll gave him a far more emphatic 60-28 win. Trump needed a clear win to change the current polling. There will be two more presidential debates on October 15 and 22, and a vice presidential debate on October 7.

The major headlines from the debate were that it was a shouting match, and Trump’s refusal to denounce white supremacists. I have said before that the US economy’s fast recovery from the April coronavirus lows is Trump’s best asset for re-election, but he did nothing during the debate to tell a positive story about the economy.

Concerning the Supreme Court fight over the replacement for the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Morning Consult poll found that a record 62% supported the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), while 24% were opposed. In March, this was 55-29 support. There is clear danger for Trump and Republicans in appointing a judge who will overturn Obamacare.

New Zealand poll: Labour short of majority

A new Colmar Brunton New Zealand poll has Labour on 47%, National 33%, ACT 8% and the Greens 7%. If repeated at the October 17 election, Labour would win 59 of the 120 seats, two short of a majority. You can read more at my personal website.